How I Stopped Myself Becoming a Dragon

Up until recently I had a path of bumpy skin at the upper bridge of my nose. Annoying little things that resembled goosebumps and very stubborn things at that.

I am not sure if these had anything to do with me wearing my spectacles more frequently but they made me feel as though I was about to turn into a dragon for they looked quite reptilian to me.

As I am not ready for such a dramatic metamorphosis, I sought to do something about them. I trialled and errored my way through a host of products all promising to smooth and buff my skin to glory. Very few scrubbed up but there were 2 that stood out from the crowd.


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Green People's Fruit Scrub Exfoliator contains organic apricot, mandarin and bergamot which all make it smell very lovely indeedy!

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This is a creamy formula with lots of tiny scrubby particles which when combined with the fruity ingredients, gently and effectively lift those little bitches...I mean the unwanted bits that clog up my skin leaving it feeling soft and clean. 

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The packaging is simple and practical, very shower friendly and hygienic. I use this once or twice a week taking care to remove my makeup beforehand. I don't really need to concern myself with over cleansing as this is so gentle that my skin never feels stressed after use. 

The 50ml tube lasts quite a while and costs £11.95. The scrub is 88% organic and does without parabens, lanolin, alcohol, petrochemicals and colourants. I bought this from Planet Organic but you can also get it directly from the Green People website.


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When my skin needs an extra deep scrub (think blackheads and congestions after travelling), I reach for my little bottle of the Aesop Tea Tree Leaf Facial Exfoliant.

This is quite a unique product in that it is a dry mix of crushed exfoliating botanicals that can be mixed into a cream or gel based cleanser in a sort of bespoke mixture to your own liking/needs.

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As handsome as this little bottle is, it is absolutely the least shower friendly scrub I have ever owned. It is also expensive at a hefty £27.00 for a wee 30g. However, this is powerful potent stuff. You don't need much as I only need a tiny amount and only need to use it a couple of times a month. Also, because the ingredients are dry, it does last a very long time.

Apart of the great versatility that Aesops' Tea Tree Leaf Facial Exfoliant allows me, it really does a great job for me. It improves my blood circulation and it is the only scrub that really does make a visible and lasting effect on the stubborn blackheads that plague my nose.

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Thanks to these two nifty things...I have managed to shift the bumps and so prevented myself from turning into a dragon. I do like it when I find things that work!

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Coffee Prowling: Cooper and Wolf

We have been out-and-abouting more than normal for this time of year at the weekends. Endless plodding about requires more coffee breaks to keep me awake. Whilst I prefer tea to relax with, concentrate with and refresh myself with, coffee works far better to shake me out of winter induced zombie modes.

Cooper and Wolf is a popular perch on the trendier ends of Clapton and it gets very busy at the weekends. Luckily, we found a couple of seats and got to try to hide for a while from the cold with cake!

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Coffee was great! Caravan's single estate small batch locally roasted beans and a little cute touch made a lovely cappuccino. The carrot and orange cake was not too sweet, very moist and rather morish. The service was polite and efficient despite them being run off their feet.

Curiously, spookily, our table number read 10 July.....our wedding anniversary date. Uncanny!

I will definately stop by again if I am in the area. I have cinnamon buns in mind.

Cooper and Wolf
145 Chatsworth Road
Clapton, Hackney, E5 0LA

LINKS | Cooper and Wolf | Caravan Coffee

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Japanese Home Cooking

I am getting increasingly more emails about  Japanese food and recipes and so really want to share this amazing resource of Japanese food inspiration deliciousness!

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COOKPAD is Japan's largest online cooking and recipe sharing community. We have been subscribers and eager users of COOKPAD for a long time now. It serves as a brilliant resource of new recipes and is equally fab for new ideas for more familiar recipes too.

There are currently about 10,500 translated recipes on the new site a mere drop in the ocean compared to the 1.5 million recipes shared by passionate home cooks currently on the Japanese site. However, the people at COOKPAD are working on cherry-picking and translating on thousands more. 

Japanese food fans will love this site, it's teeming with great ideas, some traditional, some are more international dishes with a Japanese twist.....I will shut up now. Go and see for yourself....BE INSPIRED!!

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Going for Bold

Tea is an everyday part of my life, regardless of season and no matter where I am, I will reach for a cuppa at least once a day.

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African teas are a cupboard staple at home. Bold teas to relax with and bold teas to wake up with. Here are 2 of my current favourites:

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Kromland Organic Rooibos Vanilla tea is a lovely tea to wind down with. It is so soothing with its smoothness. It is naturally sweet with a delicious and inviting aroma owing to the 2 types of vanilla and barely detectable whisper of liquorice which makes it very refreshing. 

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Simba Chai Tangawizi Tea is a full bodied blend of locally grown tea and ginger. Tanzania produces huge amounts of tea and spices so it is a natural union to have black tea and ginger. This bold but well balanced and somehow warming in winter and refreshing in summer. Bought in Tanzania, each cup reminds me of Dar es Salaam! 

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On a packaging note, I think the boldness of the teas are well translated by the boldness of the graphics on the boxes. More to add to my Pinterest Board.

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From Fornasetti

Once a year, Hiro buys me a candle to mark what would be my mother's birthday. As this year's was quite a milestone, he got me a Fornasetti piece.

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I just love it! This particular candle is called Sole Di Capri. The ceramic vessel is emblazoned with a much adored and enduring design by the immitable Piero Fornasetti who created this vision out of his passion for Capri before he ever visited the island. It is a work of imagination plucked from his fantasy making it all the more wonderful to me and I imagine that my mum would have liked this too!

The scent is unique to this design. An intoxicated fragrance that inspires thoughts of long sun drenched summer days surrounded by citrus groves, sea air and drying grasses. 

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Sole Di Capri sits alongside L'ape, my skyward gazing beauty. 

L'ape depicts the face of Fornasetti's muse, the captivatingly beautiful Lina Cavalieri. Lina was an Italian monologist, actress and soprano whose face Fornasetti playfully created more than 500 variations of. Remarkable.

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I am quite fascinated with obsessive repetition in art and I found it quite amusing to read that when asked about his compulsion with Lina his response was;

 “I don’t know,”...... “I began to make them and I never stopped."

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The packaging and presentation of each  ceramic encased candle is presented most handsomely in a striking box with a keyhole feature. 

The candles themselves burn wonderfully with a powerful and relentless scent throw, not a surprise really as the wax is created by the manufacturing branch of the master candlemakers, Cire Trudon using 100% vegetable based wax.

These are more than just candles though, they are objects of beauty and the ceramic jars shall be kept long after the candles burn out.

Links: | Milk Concept | Fornasetti | Lina Cavalieri
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| Photo Diary | Destination Dar

We arrived in Dar es Salaam on the 18th December 2013. Literally translated as "place of peace" and affectionately called Dar, Dar es Salaam is many things but peaceful is not the 1st thing that comes to mind.

As Tanzania's largest, most populated and busiest city it is a place pulsating with energy and life. It was noisy, crowded, burdened with heavy traffic and humid hot. The weather man was reporting humidity readings of 97% throughout our stay but we suffered little from the effects of this. If you have experienced summers in Tokyo, then this is quite refreshing in comparison. 

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We unintentionally stayed in the downtown area of Morogoro Road. An area of the city seemingly shunned by western tourists. I imagine that this is due to the unsavoury reputation that downtown Dar has (it is an area associated with high crime rates, muggings in particular) and its location being quite a distance away from the more obvious tourist areas. On our part, we never experienced any trouble nor felt threatened or in danger and felt comfortable enough to walk around unescorted much to the surprise of the concierge at our hotel.

In hindsight, there was very little downtown to keep the traditional tourist busy or the would be beach-bum away from their sun loungers. However, if you, like us are intrepid people watchers or observers of life, then this is a wonderful area to base yourself and we would definitely stay here again.

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Dar es Salaam sits on the coastal edge of Tanzania where it faces the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Dar draws fewer tourists than Arusha in the north of Tanzania whose links to the northern circuit of safari parks is just perfect. Perhaps it is because of this combined with its seafront location and more Swahili vibe that I like Dar so very much.

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I envy cities with beaches, London's "beach" is pitiful and quite funny, that said, we didn't venture onto Dar's more picturesque beaches and opted instead to head for one frequented by locals. We grabbed some snacks at Shoprite with our taxi driver and headed out for an impromptu picnic with chips, sodas, chicken and samosas.

Our driver's name is Jackson. Look out for him if ever you are in Dar, he is an easy going nice fellow. Jackson told me that he likes dancing and going to the beach with his friends and that he often goes to Kilimanjaro region to visit his grandmother. We had a lot in common!

Our experience of Dar was a wonderful mix of relaxing dinners, crazy walks, Stoney Tangawizi breaks (best ginger beer ever!), haggling, laughing, utter amazement, talking to locals and enjoying the sights and sounds of one of Africa's most fascinating cities. 
Photos taken by Hiro, Me and AZK of Late Night Diary

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East London High

High Streets are a part of east London life that I really enjoy and much prefer to the ubiquitous monotony of shopping malls.

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Independent shops fighting for our attention against the large chains that seem to flood cities. Shops that are run with real character and personality always win me over.

Locations: Photos were taken in Poplar + Clapton. 
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Shapeless + Good Drape

I am hopelessly devoted to seemingly shapeless garments. Items of clothing that cast an interesting silhouette and have a good drape get my approval.

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This wool and cashmere mix cocoon style coat from Jaeger provides snug comfort in the cold and the shocking yellow scarf adds a blast of sunny feeling.

The run down: Coat from Jaeger | Parero/scarf was bought from a street vendor in Stone Town | Tights from & Other Stories | Short wide leg trousers are from ASOS | Loafers from Kate Kanzier |Lipstick is Cherry Lush from Tom Ford|

Locations: Photos were taken on a stroll from Mile End to Hackney Wick
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It's a New Day For Me

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This week, I will have lived longer than my mother did and it feels strange.

Mum died in her 30's exactly 1 week before her birthday and in my childish mind I thought that this was quite old and begun to believe that I would never live longer than she did. However, as I grew and my own years began to slip away, I realised just how young she was and how much she had overcome in the few years I had with her and my admiration for my mother grew evermore. Unfortunately, so did my odd unsubstantiated belief that I wouldn't make it past this age.

I have all sorts of mental demons and one such manifestation is an obsessive compulsive issue with my made up childhood beliefs. This is not as negative as it sounds. I have in fact taught myself to use my issues to spur me on in life and this one in particular has helped me have courage and be unafraid of taking risks and really live life to the fullest point that I realistically can. It has taught me to never mind wearing my heart on my sleeve but to wear it emblazoned across my whole being and so what if I say things that people think is odd and curiously emotional....I don't want to leave things unsaid or unfelt.

Perhaps it is grief that instilled this belief in my head. It is a sad fact that my sister and I were prevented from attending our mother's funeral and so perhaps it is this that kept my strange notion niggling away at me for over 20 years. It doesn't really matter I think. Time does heal in a way. In my case it dulled the sharp pain and replaced it a bottomless admiration of my mother for being a truly phenomenal woman (entirely worthy of THAT Maya Angelou poem) who overcame all the worst things that a woman can face and still have a grace, kindness and generosity of spirit that I have never again encountered in a person. I still do have an indescribable confliction of silent numbness and dull aching on certain days of the year yet even this has enabled me to grow stronger and maybe a little wiser too.

So this week, I will have lived longer than my mother and I am sat here wondering what I shall do with myself now that I have made it this far. Someone on Twitter said this to me; 

"this means you'll feel a lot better tomorrow. A new chapter in your life without the countdown."

I could not have put it put it better. Thank you Seb for finding the words that escaped me. Up until now I have a had a full life always thinking of this day and so that it is shifting into my past, now more than ever before and with everything I have inside me I will strive for more of the same. The photograph above was taken under the wide skies of Tanzania at the end of last year and it just seems to sum up how I feel.

Now let me get up and get on with the rest of my life!

P.S. I have decided to stand up to myself and write about this on my blog for 2 reasons. Firstly, as selfish as it may seem on the surface, writing is therapeutic for me. Secondly, this may give some sort of solace and comfort to others floating in the same lonely boat.

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Not Meant To Be Empty

There are things in life that look better empty and there are many that are better filled with life.

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Notebooks should be full in my opinion. Not just with mere words but with hopes, wishes, plans, thoughts, pains, growth, poetry, doodles, photos anything that gives them life. They come alive when they start to fill up, they take on a sort of character, they hold secrets and remind us of passing moments and instances that may have otherwise faded away. Empty notebooks are too sad, like a sea without fish or night sky sans stars. Don't even get me started on contemplating empty diaries......

My most recent notebook acquisitions are from the Moleskine stable. A little haul of less likely shades of the ubiquitous variety, pristine white and marshmallow-hued pastels.

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These pastel coloured Cahiers are new in the UK and the delighted their way into my shopping bag on my laft trip to Daunt Books.

Moleskine have really upped the ante on their website lately and now offer a range of templates and fun things to help us customise our notebooks and diaries. So if you haven't already, you may like to plod over there for a gander.

I am a notebook junky, I have one on the go for the different lives that I lead. I have one to accompany me on adventures, one for blogging, another to the office and more on the side. And, at the end of every year I laugh, cringe, smile and puzzle over the things that I chose to memorise on each page.

LINKS: Moleskine | Daunt Books |
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January is probably the month where most of us meditate on the resonance of time throughout and beyond our lives more so than any other month. We take stock of time passed and we make hopes for time to come

Kurashina Takefumi better known as Tekken, is an illustrator, animator and comedian and the creator of a series of thought provoking and heart rending para para manga that to me, beautifully interpret our frail relationship with time. Para para manga is the Japanese term for flipbook animation (para para is the onomatopoeia for pages turning). Tekken has hand drawn these images and used a machine to regulate the sequence.

The short film below is entitled Furiko and when it was 1st aired in Japan in 2012, it brought many people to tears. Don't let this put you off, do watch it, it is a beautiful and inspiring piece.

After watching this film, I felt more than ever that time can be many things but most of all time is a gift.

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Kaweco Winner Please Stand Up!

I had no idea that so many people still fancy the idea of inky fingers and practising penmanship! Thank you everyone who entered my little giveaway...I wish I could choose more than one winner but sadly my purse says NO.

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Congratulations May Belater!! You are my winner!! Please get in touch via email (questions at worshipblues dot com) and let me know which colour pen you would like, what ink colour takes your fancy and of course your postal address.

I will be launching another giveaway towards the end of the month for a rather smashing Liberty voucher so please do keep an eye on the blog for that!
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Picking Up The Threads

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A particular Hobbit once asked; "How do you pick up the threads of an old life?".

This is a question I find myself pondering over after returning from each and every adventure. The trouble with embarking on an adventure is that more often that not, one must return to reality at some point. Unless of course you can be both obstinate and slightly "away with the fairies" like I am and then everything can be an adventure.

In many ways, blogging has helped me to further appreciate all my adventures(both big and small ones)and adjust back to the rude awakening that real life often is as it gives me the chance to re-live parts of my adventures as I write about them.

I finished last year with the most wonder-filled trip. My dear husband took me on an adventure of a life-time for Christmas and I am looking forward to sharing parts of this with you soon.

Which reminds me! The eagle-eyed visitor may have noticed a new button in my sidebar. I am planning to position quick links to all our travel notes here for easy reference and access. I hope that our casual writings and photographs will be both useful and interesting. Of course, you can always contact me if you have more specific questions. Always happy to try and help.

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As Quick as a Wink

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One year has whizzed passed and here we are riding the crest of another as quick as a wink! I just wanted to quickly wish you all a splendid, healthy and happy 2014 and to let you know that I shall be back into the rhythm of things very soon!

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